archives for 11/2014
The first widespread
frost blanketed the farm Halloween morning. I've been harvesting the
broccoli and peas a bit at a time over the last month, but a low of 28
was enough to start damaging the remainder, so Mark and I spent the
afternoon bringing in the last of the early-fall harvest. Cabbages,
broccoli, peas, raspberries, and the last few figs soon lined the
kitchen counter, and then it was time to head back outside to protect
the late-fall bounty.
I've learned over the
years that it's not worth covering up tatsoi, tokyo bekana, and mustard.
These tender greens do okay in the early fall, but even with
frost-protection, they soon perish during November nights. So, instead, I
just erect quick hoops over the last planting of lettuce --- currently
in tender two-leaf stage --- and over most of our beds of kale. One kale
bed I'll leave uncovered to give us more variety in our greens harvests
before we begin delving into our covered beds in late November or early
this time of year, I always get lots of question about quick hoops, and
I don't blame you. They're a beautiful sight in the garden, and tender
kale leaves deep into the winter are a beautiful sight in the kitchen!
All of your questions are answered in my 99-cent ebook Weekend Homesteader: October, and if you want to splurge, you can collect all of the Weekend Homesteader months in the paperback form. I hope that helps turn your garden into a year-round affair!
The good thing about letting
our ducks forage in the woods is the water.
I first noticed Leigh Tate's 5 Acres & A Dream The Book when it popped up in the top 100 Sustainable Living books list on Amazon (where many of my books
reside on their good days). Once I realized the book was a
self-published paperback, I became even more intrigued because, while
self-published non-fiction ebooks are relatively easy to get into Amazon's top 100
lists, paperbacks tend to be trickier. In case you're curious
about reproducing Leigh's success, I suspect it boils down to:
Okay, self-publishing tips
aside, I'm sure many of you are simply interested in the book
itself. If you enjoy our blog, chances are that 5 Acres & A Dream The Book
will be right up your alley. Leigh explains that her book isn't a
how to or a why to; it's simply the story of how she and her husband
found their farm and spent four years bringing the land to life.
the most powerful part of the book is the way Leigh records changes in
the couple's thought processes as they began
to homestead, transitions that I suspect are near-universal since Mark
and I worked
our way across many of the same hurdles during our early years here.
That's why I particularly recommend Leigh's book to folks who are still
in the dreaming stage or who have recently moved to a homestead. Chances
are, her book will help lower your own hurdles, in the process
making the obstacles look more familiar when the time comes for you to
As a more established
homesteader, I mostly read Leigh's book as a fun farm memoir, but I
definitely pored over the chapter on feeding animals with homegrown
products. The Tates experimented with planting field corn (a heavy
nitrogen feeder, but easy to grow and process), wheat (very tough to
process, but chickens will eat the grains out of the head), Ozark
Razorback cowpeas (can be fed to goats in the pod), and sunflowers (can
be fed in shells to goats). Since we're just getting started with
goats, Leigh's tips were very timely, especially since she's very
realistic about homestead-scale processing and storage.
Want to enjoy 5 Acres & a Dream The Book? You're in luck because one reader will win a copy just by entering the
giveaway below! If you don't win and want a free sampling of
Leigh's writing, head on over to her blog
for cute pig photos and much more. Leigh is also branching out
into ebooks, and her first two offerings, How to Preserve Eggs and How to Make a Buck Rag are now available on Amazon for 99 cents each. I
hope you enjoy the ebooks and paperback as much as I
Some of our sprinklers are
cheap and don't have the ability to unscrew the hose without turning
the whole sprinkler or the hose.
do you do if your dwarf apple tree is as tall as you want it to
get...and it keeps on growing? Whacking the top off a tree is seldom a
good idea since that type of pruning often prompts a tree to use up its
energy sending out lots of useless watersprouts. Enter a technique known as snaking.
The carrots survived last
night's temperatures in the refrigerator
This week marks our one-month anniversary of having goats on the farm. Time to trim their hooves!
Hoof trimming was on my list of things I was uncertain about, which is why I opted to splurge on a special hoof-trimming tool rather than just using a pocket knife. Of course, now that I've trimmed hooves, I can see how a pocket knife could
work --- the part of the hoof you pare off is very easy to distinguish
from the not-to-be-cut area, and it's also quite soft. But clippers made
the operation very painless, and I'm glad we have them.
Once I figured out what I
was doing, front hooves were easy on both girls. Artemesia thought she
was being petted the whole time, so even our doeling's hind hooves
weren't bad, but Abigail didn't understand why something kept grabbing
her feet and not letting them go. In the end, Mark and I had to work
together to get Abigail's hind feet trimmed --- he corralled her and I
Now that I've trained both of our girls to walk easily on a leash
and to do (mostly) as I say, it's time for the second round of training
--- milking prep. Abigail is (hopefully) pregnant (more on that later),
so Mark will be building a milking station shortly. Then I'll start
giving Abigail her treats (more on those later too) while up on the
milking station. That will give me an opportunity to get our doe used to
being manhandled, and should also make trimming her hind hooves easier.
I got the base of our new
goat milking stand finished today.
Even though it was hard
to believe when I stripped down to a t-shirt five hours later, we had a
low of 21 on Sunday night. The killing frost was definitely enough to
nip our fig leaves and put the tree to sleep, which meant it was time to
protect our fig from winter cold.
now that you're all up to speed, it's time to protect that fig! I opted
to return to the 2012 method, figuring that more leaves around the base
of the plant will protect the sensitive junction of stem and root from
winter injury. Brian suggested stones around the base, which is a great
idea, but I never seem to have extra rocks to throw around. (It's a
momentous occasion when a new stone turns up in the garden.) Assuming we
don't have a repeat of last year's ultra-cold winter, and assuming that
I secured the tarp well enough, hopefully the three stems I kept will
produce an early crop (which we missed out on this year).
As I pruned, I was
excited to see that several of the small stems that had grown
horizontally out from the tree base had sprouted roots over the summer! I
snipped the rooted segments off and wrapped them in damp newspaper in
case any of our readers want to give Chicago Hardy figs a try. Enter the
giveaway using the widget below if you're interested (and be sure to
plan ahead for five cuttings that should be potted up and spend the
winter in a cool spot inside while they finish growing roots).
What do we do with the goats
on a rainy day like today?
Back when we first paid for Abigail,
the owner seemed confident that she'd be able to breed her and let us
take home a pregnant goat. However, when the time came to pick up our
new addition, the owner seemed a little less sure. Yes, she thought
she'd bred Abigail a month previously, but she'd just gotten her buck
back from his visit to a friend's farm and the buck had acted very
interested in Abigail again. "So if she didn't get bred then, she got
that one technique people think is pretty accurate is to add a little
less than half a teaspoon of goat urine to a cup of bleach. Based on the
amount of fizz you see, you can determine whether or not your goat is
pregnant. Extended fizz = knocked up. No fizz = she's not knocked up.
Since Abigail nearly always pees right before I take her out of the coop
in the morning and then again right after I bring her back in at night,
it was pretty easy to stick a container underneath and run a test.
Unfortunately, the results weren't what I was looking for --- no fizz.
Even after I poured a whole lot of urine into that bleach, the only
thing that happened is that the combined liquid turned a very dark
We tethered our goats for
about an hour this afternoon for the first time.
In their prime, it seems like sacrilege to cook sugar-snap peas. But I allowed a few frosts to damage the last peas before we picked the vines bare last week,
which means that the peas we harvested were subprime. They were still
crunchy and sweet, but the pods had started to turn a bit fibrous and
the aesthetics were much reduced (as you can see to the right). Time to
saute the remaining vegetables with garlic and turn so-so fare into a
There's really not much to this recipe, but here's an ingredients list to make it even easier:
Excellent sugar-snap peas
can be used whole, but if yours are turning fibrous like ours were,
you'll want to string the pods as if they were beans. Otherwise, leave
the pods whole and drop them into a skillet full of a little hot oil.
Turn down the heat to medium-high, add the garlic, salt, and pepper, and
cook for about five minutes (stirring often) until the beans turn
We went over our neighbor's
for lunch today and got blocked by a fallen tree.
In Weekend Homesteader: October,
one of the projects I suggest is spending some time scavenging free
biomass for use on the garden. I barely touched on seaweed in that
chapter, including it only because I'd read that some people use seaweed
as mulch. But while Mark and I were at the beach last month, I decided to collect a bagful and bring it home as an experiment.
Our kale seems to stop growing at this time of year, but it makes up for it by getting a little bit sweeter with each cold snap.
favorite college professor wasn't a "real" professor at all. The "real"
professor was her husband Tim, who taught ornithology and animal
behavior. But Tim and Janet were true partners, which I suspect is why
she opted to accept a job as assistant professor (if I've got my
terminology correct) at the same college where her husband taught. Or
perhaps Janet was just the smartest person I knew, who managed to create
a job doing exactly the things she loved --- leading field trips and
looking at birds --- within no administration to sully the mix.
Janet was the only
college professor who I considered to be a true friend. During my
student days, I'd drop by her office and watch enviously as she mixed
homemade granola with yogurt and a cut-up apple for lunch, and we'd talk
about our lives. Janet once told me that she didn't feel any different
than she had when she was my age, and, years later, I finally understand
what she meant. Looking back at the few snapshots I have from my
college days, I'm surprised to see that I looked so young since I still
feel so similar to that girl who loved to track down the source of a
scent in the woods and who followed Janet across the creek one spring
morning in hopes of capturing a deciduous magnolia in bloom.
Janet and her husband
eventually "graduated" and moved to their home in New Hampshire, where
they had spent their non-college years (and summers). I visited the
college only once after Janet left, and couldn't talk myself into going
back thereafter --- the beautiful campus simply felt empty without my
favorite professor to drop in on.
We had some trouble with
Abigail chasing her little sister today.
When I talked Mark into letting me experiment with ducks,
what interested me the most was the waterfowls' reputation for laying
well in the winter months even without lights in the coop. And I'm now
ready to say that their reputation is well deserved! We currently have
three point-of-lay pullets in the chicken department and five
similarly-aged ducks, and we receive about four eggs a day from the
latter (80% lay rate) and one egg a day (if we're lucky) from the former
(25% lay rate). Granted, this is without supplemental lighting in the chicken coop,
which would have increased our chicken-egg numbers, but that's
definitely a striking difference and a major mark in the pro-duck
Assuming you manage to
swoop up the clean eggs in time (which we're getting better at), the
next distinction comes when you crack a few eggs open. Duck eggshells
are harder, and they have a thicker membrane underneath, which means
that tiny fragments of shell are more likely to end up in your egg if
you're not very careful. I'm getting better at preventing this, but I
still spend quite a bit of time chasing tiny egg fragments through my
uncooked eggs each morning. Unfortunately, I haven't found any solution
for the very glutinous whites in the duck eggs, which tend to leave a
streak of goo on the counter every time I try to decant the filling from
the center of an uncooked egg.
We tested our new goat
milking stand today.
When we went to pick up Artemesia, her previous owner
warned me: "You'll want to get in some good hay now." I looked at the
lady's dozen-plus full-sized goats and mentally rolled my eyes. Of
course I wouldn't need hay with just two little goats to feed on our ultra-weedy farm.
But my snooty goats are
far less excited by low-quality pasture. Last week, I penned them into a
brushy area, hoping that after they ate the honeysuckle covering the
young trees, they might eat up the twigs of the trees underneath. No
such luck. Instead, my usually-quiet Abigail yelled at me all morning
until I relented and tethered her in the oat patch
for the afternoon. And while my oat supply also seemed pretty unlimited
a few weeks ago, our girls are starting to eat the lush greenery down
to the ground, which means their afternoon fill-up sessions are going to
be harder to come by in the near future.
Which is all a long way
of saying --- once the ATV gets fixed, we're going to have to get in
some hay. Drat! Oh well --- it's still inspiring to think that, if we
planned far enough in advance, we might be able to feed our goats on
farm-only feed pretty easily. After all, they gorged for over a month
without me spending a penny, so twelve months wouldn't be all that much
forty years ago, when visiting friends near Dungannon, Virginia, I
asked what fruit were under the big tree in their front yard. That
was my first taste of persimmons. They were close in flavor to a date, and very sweet. I loved them.
rinsed a quart of the fruit in warm water and drained it. Then I
filled the bottom of the ricer with fruit and squeezed. Sure
enough, pulp oozed out of its holes. I quickly learned that a
steady but gentle pressure was needed and that three squeezes would get
all that would come. Between squeezes I stirred the fruit with a
table knife and poked at any that hadn't split open.
enjoy spending chilly mornings writing in front of a fire, and once I
finish up my stockpiled projects from earlier in the year, the question
becomes --- what to write next? I probably won't start any new projects
until the first of next year since I'm currently cleaning up old covers
(what do you think of Growing into a Farm version 3?), finishing the expanded manuscript of Trailersteading
for my publisher, and generally getting all of the things I let slide
during the summer back into shape. But it's good to start ruminating,
and I'd love your opinion on which of these books you'd most like to
We finally found a local
mechanic that can fix our rear
probably should have done this last month, but I took a few minutes
this week to close up our hives for winter. Hive winterization involves
adding a bottom board beneath the screened bottom and removing any boxes
that aren't currently in use, with the purpose of both tasks being to
make the hive easier to heat over the winter. Many people do the same
thing in their domiciles, in fact --- if you really only use your
bedroom and kitchen in the winter, why pay to heat the whole house?
Are we ready for temperatures
40 degrees lower than normal?
With the snow starting to
fall, I let our girls top off their bellies with oat leaves Thursday
afternoon, then put them to bed early with a sunflower-seed head.
As she's gotten bigger,
Artemesia has grown an independent streak. She now has a bad habit of
lagging behind for just...one...more...leaf. But our doeling soon
gallops to catch up.
"Gee, I almost missed the treat?!"
Both goats enjoy eating
the sunflower-seed head right down to the stem, but Artemesia isn't
nearly as good at it. Our little doeling always takes one big bite that
doesn't quite fit in her mouth, then she spends several minutes trying
to wrestle the seeds into her throat. Meanwhile, Abigail takes little
bites --- gulp, gulp, gulp, down the gullet --- and ends up consuming
85% of the head. No wonder our doe is getting fat while our doeling just
holds her ground.
written a lot already about how much our goats love oat leaves. Always a
softy, I've taken to tethering our girls in the garden for half an hour
or an hour every afternoon to fill them to bursting, during which time I
mostly monitor them (but also cover any strawberry plants with a bit of
plastic trellis material for an added layer of protection). But as our
oat stores dwindle, I decided to try our goats on another winter cover crop --- oilseed radishes.
Since determining that our goats do
enjoy frost-bitten oilseed radishes, I've pulled up a few plants for
them now and then when no radishes are within their enclosures. But my
offerings were often abandoned, presumably because it's a lot harder for
a goat to break off bite-size pieces when a plant isn't anchored firmly
in the ground.
about a vegetable with an undeserved bad rap. In Canada they
changed its name to canola. If you want a recipe you need to look
up broccoli raab or rapini. It's one of my standard, easy-to-grow
winter vegetables. A ten-by-ten foot patch provides a never ending
supply of fresh and healthy greens.
Then I cut them in two-or-three-inch-long sections.
A coating of olive oil with
salt preceded putting them on baking sheets and placing in a 350 degree
oven. A stir or two, then, fifteen minutes later--ready to eat
along with crock-pot navy beans cooked with chopped onions and green
We hiked what we thought was
a fresh battery to the truck today.
We've enjoyed such a
nice, gentle fall...but all good things must come to an end. When I woke
to a low of 12 Saturday morning, I realized that I'd forgotten some of
the winter tasks that I should probably have been more on top of. Yep,
our water line had frozen
(as it generally does in extreme cold weather...especially if I forget
to put insulation back around the summer access points), and I hadn't
filled up any backup water sources. So I had to steal half of the
contents of Huckleberry's water bucket for the goats, which prompted our
grumpy cat to stalk outside in a snit and then bring a junco back to
lay across the kitchen floor. I picked up the bird, thinking it was
dead, opened the back door to toss the critter out...and Huckleberry's
prey lifted off from my hands and flew away, stunned but unharmed by our
cat's attention-getting move.
So winter is here at
last! Happily, I realized that twelve doesn't really feel all that cold
when you've gotten used to mid-fifties inside the trailer. And now maybe
those last few leaves will drop off our baby apple trees so I can enjoy one of my favorite seasons --- fall perennial planting! After the ground thaws, of course.
A short video showing what's involved in putting up a quick hoop.
"I was wondering whether this feels like it might be a longer winter than normal and if the woodshed was full enough to make it through to the warmer weather of spring? In our two years having a woodstove at our cabin, we are still learning just how much wood we will need to keep us warm during the cold months.
Also - I was curious if you have to deal with mice in the trailer?
Our cabin was invaded recently and I was looking for more good ideas to
make them less inclined to visit."
--- Karen B.
Two great questions, Karen!
As for the wood --- we never seem to have quite enough, but we manage.
In order to really get ahead on firewood, we'd need to change our system
so that we can stock up on wood during the winter that comes a year
before we plan to burn it,
since that's a season when our lives are less busy. But since I need to
be able to get to last year's firewood during the winter, we instead
empty the woodshed out and then fill it back up. In the end, that method
means that cutting firewood has to compete with the garden --- I'll bet
you can guess which one wins! To make up for our slacker habits, I tend
to earmark a standing dead tree
or two for spring firewood since the dry wood can often be burned soon
after cutting, which generally ekes us through late February, March, and
The mouse issue is more
interesting to me because we're finally starting to figure it out. Every
fall, the local mouse population does
tend to invade our trailer, and even though Huckleberry catches an
occasional mouse, he's not our first line of defense. (Our other cat,
Strider, is a lover, not a fighter.) We've learned the hard way that
it's essential to be hyper vigilant at this time of year --- at the
first sound of nibbling in the walls or sight of mouse droppings on the
counter, we pull out the traps with a vengeance. Mark talked me into
buying this super fancy trap
years ago, and it did work for a little while (as you can see above),
but then the scent of death built up and the mice started to avoid it.
Now, we tend to use cheaper traps, which we can reuse a few times until
they lose efficacy and then toss. Our favorite trap is currently one a lot like this.
When trapping mice, you'll
want to put the trap where you think a mouse might run. Mice are
skittish little varmints, so they're unlikely to head to your bait in
the middle of the floor; instead, set your trap against a wall in an
out-of-the-way spot (but near where you saw their signs). We sometimes
bait with peanut butter, but cheese has a higher success rate,
especially cheddar. I probably don't need to say it, but don't bother
with live traps --- moving animals around is never a good idea, and
unless you live way out in the country, the mouse is likely to head into
another home after you release it, where it will get killed anyway.
Another factor to keep in
mind is sealing away anything that a mouse might like. Food is obvious,
but clothing and toilet paper are also in great demand for bedding. An
average bureau doesn't really keep a mouse out, I've found, so
rubbermaid bins can sometimes be better. Barring that, I try to at least
go through each drawer on occasion so I don't miss a mouse nest being
built. If you have storage areas inside your home, don't pile things up
in such a manner that a cat can't get into the center to hunt, and do
check those little-used areas at intervals as well. Catching the first
few mice who drop by in the fall is only of middling difficulty, but if
you let them breed and have fifty mice to hunt down, your work will
really be cut out for you!
I hope that helps, and I'm
glad you're being proactive. In the city, roaches are probably the most
common vermin, but in the country, it's all about beating the mice. And
as cruel as it seems to kill them off in the fall, you'll be rewarded by
a winter sitting by the fire without the sound of nibbling in the
We got the first part of our
goat manger done today.
Ever since we got goats, I've been building them a new "tractor"
every day out of cattle panels. At first, that effort seemed very
worthwhile, since I was moving the girls around to eat all of the
honeysuckle off our fencelines and barn. But once I ran out of easy
honeysuckle buffets, it seemed like twenty minutes of labor for half a
belly of so-so food might not be as efficient a use of my time.
Abigail discovered how to
escape from one of her pastures today.
We enjoyed our first and possibly only roast brussels sprouts of the season Tuesday, the combination of a new variety and an extremely wet fall meaning that the plants blighted instead of thrived.
The experience made me think about how frequently home gardeners give
up on a crop because of a single failure, when what they really should
have gotten out of the experience was an impulse to figure out what made
their plants refuse to grow.
Now that the cold weather
has truly set in and most of you have nothing left to plant for the
year, why not spend a few hours thinking back over your garden past?
When you look at all of those luscious-looking pictures in the seed
catalogs this winter, try to ignore the pretty photos and tantalizing
descriptions. Instead, seek out the less sensational but more important
notes on which blights each variety is resistant to and how well they do
in other difficult situations that your garden will throw at them in
the year to come.
Riding in our backseat lately is a rough equivalent to an old fashion hay ride.
know that some weeks it seems like all I do is talk about goats and
books. So why not shake it up...and talk about goat books?!
Of course the goats wanted to
be on top of the new manger.
psychologically colder about nights that get down into the single
digits. Or maybe it's not completely psychological. Gates freeze shut,
my hands ache when I go out to do my morning chores, and the uncovered
winter crops begin to die back.
Last year at this time,
we enjoyed a similar cold spell, but the lowest low in November 2013 was
15. No wonder I ran through the firewood I had alloted for November
2014 by the middle of this month and have already started into
Everyone else on the farm
is glad that we're due to enjoy a bit more fall weather this coming
week as the current Arctic burst goes back where it belongs. But Lucy
loves the cold, so she might be sad to see it go. Don't worry, Lucy ---
there are many more frosty mornings ahead!
We transplanted some apple
trees this afternoon.
So, my goats-in-the-woods experiment
lasted all of about two hours. I let the girls loose, settled down to
write...and soon heard Artemesia yelling at the top of her lungs.
Abigail had circled around to the part of our boundary that has the
lowest fence and had hopped right over, but our doeling's stubby little
legs didn't allow her to follow. I guess it's a good thing that
Artemesia is part Nubian since there was no missing her anguished yells
as she was left behind.
Or maybe our doeling was just telling on her big sister? Either way, I
pulled Abigail out of the garden before she could do any damage, then I
stuffed both goats back into the pasture with the honeysuckle trees shown above.
Next, I decided to try tethering Abigail
on the far side of the starplate coop. I figured that Artemesia would
stay close to her companion, and that everyone would be happy. So when I
heard non-Nubian yelling I guessed that our doe must have gotten her
chain hung up. Nope. Artemesia had decided to wander far afield in
search of honeysuckle, and her big sister was having a fit at being left
alone. So, once again, I stuffed the girls back into the pasture for
safe keeping. I guess they're stuck eating hay
now except when I take them out on monitored walks...unless I come up
with another supposedly bright technique for letting them run wild in
I was a little worried about having the goats grazing on oats so close to our new apple trees, but it seems like they're not interested in anything with bark yet.
Although it's a little premature to count our two-year-old high-density apple experiment
as a success (since frost nipped all of the blooms this spring), I'm
feeling very positive about the system. Planting the apple trees close
together allows me to try out lots of different varieties, which in turn
makes it easy to select varieties that resist cedar apple rust and our other local bugaboos. The high-density row doesn't take up much precious garden space, and the summer pruning (although frequent) is simple and fun. No wonder Mark and I chose to plant two more high-density apple rows this fall!
I've read lots of good and bad about espaliers (my third high-density apple experiment), so I earmarked only one tree for this final endeavor.
I settled on an informal design set against the south side of our front
porch and began by bending the young tree so the top was nearly
horizontal. As watersprouts inevitably pop up from the flattened trunk,
I'll probably bend them at a 45-degree angle to create a type of lattice
pattern...or whatever seems to make sense from the growth pattern of the
tree. Since I'm far from confident that my espalier will thrive,
though, I chose our Chestnut Crab for the experiment ---after all, I'm
mostly growing this sweet crabapple variety out of sentimental attachment to a similar
tree of my youth, so I won't feel too bad if I don't get high yields.
This is the first year we've
trained Huckleberry and Strider to be good in the morning.
chicken-lovers among you will be thrilled to hear that I'm celebrating
Thanksgiving early by putting my chicken books on sale! But before you
go nodding off, you can get the first book without plunking down a cent
--- The Working Chicken is currently free on Smashwords and at Barnes & Noble.
Find out why hard-nosed homesteaders don't name their chickens and much
more in this photo-rich introduction to backyard chicken care.
The trick to pulling
honeysuckle vines from tall trees is pressure.
live deep down in a valley (known locally as a holler) where we seldom
feel breezes and even less seldom are faced with strong winds. So...I
get lazy. I lay down cardboard kill mulches
with just a rock or two to weigh the sheets down (if that), and this
fall I minimized the number of bricks holding down the sides of our quick hoops to a mere six per 15-foot span.
In an earlier post, I teased you by saying that next year's high-density
experiment will veer off in an entirely new direction. But, really, it's
the same experiment...just with a different species of tree.
There are a few downsides to high-density pear
plantings that aren't a factor when similar strategies are used on apples. First, the
fruits on high-density pear trees tend to be on the small side, and pear
rootstocks also aren't as precocious as those used to dwarf apples. As a
result, the high-density pear researchers found that, even when
planting feathered trees, you really shouldn't expect your first small
pear crop until the third year after planting, and major production
won't begin until the fourth year. If you're starting with rootstocks that you
graft at home, you should add another year onto that figure, meaning
that we probably won't see any pears from our planned row until about
I know, I know, pies are
meant to be round. But this Thanksgiving, pies are squared (or at least
rectangular). In the past, I've carefully carried pies out across our
floodplain...only to find specks of mud atop my perfect crust or
meringue once we reached our destination. Not this year! Instead, I've
upgraded to lidded casserole dishes...which have the added benefit of
making a very deep-dish pie.
We took the day off for some Thanksgiving day fun.
Lack of humidity is not
something our farm usually suffers from. But last week's cold spell was
notable in the extremely low water content of the air, which led to all
kinds of minor discomforts in my nose and lips.
The view from on top of Sugar Hill.
I killed another camera.
I'm sure the painfully short, 1.5-year life cycle of my fancy cameras
has nothing to do with the way I use the devices in the garden with
muddy hands, take photos in the drizzling rain, and leave cameras lying
in the grass all afternoon while I work. Surely the malfunctions are
really all shoddy manufacturing, right?
We borrowed a new electric
fence system over the Holiday. (Thanks Errol)
Daddy lent us a solar
charger plus two 164-foot lengths of poultry netting for goat
experimentation. (Thank you!!) Of course, I immediately came up with a
slew of questions, such as...
...Do we really need the
three deep grounding rods we're instructed to install if I'm grounding
the fencing in what's basically a swamp? And do people who move
temporary electric fencing daily really drive in multiple grounding rods
(and then pull them back out) at each location?
We've got an electric
fence tester, but it's
hard to see the lights during the day.
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